Something similar to the title of this article was actually a question that was staring back at me on the screen. It was a question I was going to be asked on a live webinar for corporate leaders. Why being your true self is the most difficult and yet the most rewarding? As I continued to look at that question on the screen it was as if the words TRUE SELF were flashing out at me in neon.
What is our true self? Am I her now? Oh yes I know her! But where was she all those years?
Perhaps you’re as stumped by this question as I would have been some 20 years ago.
You see in my 20s I was so busy hustling for attention, love, and success I didn’t give this ‘true self’ business much thought to be honest. I was whatever the world needed me to be.
I was a realtor. I was young, attractive, slender, and blonde. So I was taught early on that if I didn’t want to upset the wives and if I wanted to get the business I may want to dumb down any kind of sexy, to appear as unattractive and unthreatening as possible. My uniform of choice became pant suits and jacket with full sleeves. Pretty much covered in head to toe.
I would put on this mask and become ‘professional, serious, proper’ I would adjust my personality to fit with what I thought I had to be.
Let’s just say that success began to camouflage my insecurities and unworthiness. I loved the power and feeling that success gave me. I became one of the top agents in my company, then the state and then globally—all by 30.
In the ‘busy-ness’ I didn’t have to think about my personal shame. I was unstoppable.
I felt insecure and never good enough. I would constantly name drop and big note and was always talking sales targets and numbers as that is how I felt my self-worth was defined…in my success.
As I ponder this question about my true self. I realize that it was at exactly this time in my 20s that I became the least like my true self. I was partying hard, numbing my pain with sex, drugs, alcohol, food…you name it. I was staying busy and being successful which was the perfect cover for thinking that I ‘had it all’…until I didn’t.
It always catches up with you. You start to become aware that it’s all fake and meaningless and you begin to crave some TRUTH.
So fast forward almost 2 decades and I had become a motivational speaker and decided to speak my truth at a TEDx talk titled ‘You’re Only As Sick As Your Secrets.’ See in my early 20s I got herpes. Something you can read more about some other time as I don’t want to go off topic here.
Did I just drop the ‘H’ bomb and move on…ahhh, yep cause now I’m all confident and shit, I get that ‘I am enough’ and I live in my truth, I can just drop it into conversations and move on like it’s nothing, because it is.…it just took me 20 years to get there.
So, speaking my TRUTH in that TEDx talk, we’ll let’s just say it cracked my heart wide open. The vulnerable me that was deep within exploded out.
I started doing yoga and meditation and sound baths instead of donuts and cocktails and bad men. And I noticed something.
At first I would go to these sessions feeling a little anxious, I would be defensive before the classes and yet after one of these sessions I would feel such a peace. My heart would be wide open and I would hug everyone in the room and all my defenses were down.
I realize now that, that was my TRUE SELF. The one without the walls and the mask and the not good enough stuff running the show. The one I should have been bringing to work and the boardroom and client meetings.
So yes: it is one of the most difficult journeys we can go on. Finding our true self, leaning into her, unleashing her on the world, takes huge vulnerability, which is painful.
I am still working on it. I constantly work at having her show up more of the time. I am kind to myself when she doesn’t make it to the table.
I don’t wear pant suits. I wear what my true self feels like wearing, sometimes that’s skirts and sometimes it’s jeans and a blazer. I feel sexy and playful and fun and fabulous.
I know that I am enough so I show up and shine.
It is one of the most rewarding things we can do for ourselves as that is ‘the work’ the inner work I feel we are here to do. To grow and stretch and become our true self. I am the most successful I have ever been but more importantly I am the happiest I have ever been in my own skin because I am finally being ME.